Friday, 30 December 2011

5 Lifestyle Improvements to aid Weight Loss

We have talked about how you can lose belly fat before, but this is a topic that just keeps coming up. So many of our readers ask us the simple question:

"How can I lose weight quickly?"

The truth is that there is no good way to quickly lose weight. The desire to lose weight fast leads to crash diets, starvation, catabolism, muscle wastage, over training, lethargy and usually ends in the fat coming back again.

However, it is certainly possible to speed up healthy weight loss by taking exercise to the next level and modifying and perfecting your diet.

Firstly it is important to understand a little about body fat though.
There are two main types of body fat, visceral fat that surrounds the internal organs, and subcutaneous fat that accumulates under the skin (there is also the third type of fat, intra-muscular fat, which surrounds muscle tissue).

For most people the biggest problem is the visceral fat, also called stomach fat (and beer bellies, belly fat). This is a very unhealthy form of fat.

The stomach starts to grow due to a build up of visceral fat around the internal organs. In small quantities, fat protects the organs. However, as people accumulate more weight, the fat starts to cause problems, leading to disease, cholesterol problems and other obesity related issues.

Belly fat is a very stubborn form of fat. For many people shifting belly fat is the hardest part of losing weight.  For those that wish to build a 6 pack, it is vital that the fat is lost.

So, how do we go about losing weight, and what is the most effective way to lose weight fast? The answer is simply to use a combination of diet and exercise. However, the procedure is not so simple. You need the mental discipline to ensure that you follow these rules properly. Cheating on the rules is cheating on yourself, and failure will result.

1. Ditch the Junk Food

It is a common misconception that fatty foods lead to weight gain. The real problem is sugar, and junk food is full of it.
Stop eating all junk food such as takeaways, candy, ice cream, cakes, cookies, donuts and sugary drinks like cola. These are full of calories and contain no nutritional value, leaving you feeling hungry while also putting on weight!

2. Healthy Carbs Only

Junk food is not the only problem, bread and pasta also leads to weight gain. If you are not active, then consuming high energy foods like bread and pasta will mean you put on weight.

Avoid refined carbohydrates and eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and pulses as these contain more fiber, and leave you feeling full for longer. Mixed salads are an excellent choice.

Follow a low GI diet to ensure that your carbohydrate intake does not trigger the insulin / fat accumulation response.

3. Give up the Alcohol

Alcohol is a form of energy. Also when people drink, they feel hungry and eat more. And on top of that, when you have alcohol in your system, your body stops burning fat and sugar for energy. Stop drinking completely for a month and see how you progress.

4. Plan Your Meals, Keep a Food Diary

If you plan your meals, you are less likely to snack. Also keeping an honest food diary means that you can quickly spot problem areas and deal with them. However, you have to be truthful to yourself. Write everything down, no cheating! Also learn how many calories you really need.

5. Exercise the Whole Body

To lose weight quickly, exercise really is the key. However, this does not mean performing crunches every day. There are two ways to burn fat through exercise:
  1. Building muscle with weight training, which increases your metabolism
  2. Intensive cardio exercise, which raises the heart beat and burns fat
Both of these methods must be used to successfully lose weight quickly. Free weights are ideal, so get some dumbbells and a weight training bench, and start pumping iron.

Body-weight exercise is also very effective, so press ups, crunches, jumping jacks, burpies, squats, lunges and box / vertical jumps are all good.

The Two Rules of Exercising:

The key thing to remember when exercising is that two things must happen while you are exercising:
  1. You exercise so hard that you CANNOT hold a conversation. Short bursts of intensity work better to lose weight than just plodding along at the same pace for 45 minutes.
  2. You must work up a SWEAT. Sweating heavily is a good sign that you are working hard. If you are not sweating, then it is likely that you are not putting in enough effort.
Running for fitness and cycling workouts are also excellent ways to lose weight, but ensure that you follow an intensive interval training routine, i.e. incorporate sprints into your workout.

Raising your heartbeat throughout your workout will help you to burn more fat. This is now known as Tabata Training.

Please note that the "fat burning zone" is a myth of the gym, if you exercise in the so called fat burning zone, you only make your job of losing stomach fat much harder, simply because it encourages you to work to a lower intensity. OK, if you can exercise for 90 minutes a day it can work for you, but who has 630 minutes a week spare just for exercise?
Stick with the plan, stay focused, and you can do it. If you have any questions please feel free to ask below. Losing weight is not rocket science, but it does require you to master your own mind!